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Local Bands Join 15th Annual Gator By The Bay

San Diego CA— San Diego’s 15th annual Gator By The Bay is the largest, most authentic Louisiana-themed music and food festival this side of the bayou. Local groups; Casey Hensley Band, Holla Point, Johnny “V” Vernazza and Nathan James & the Rhythm Scratchers will be joining the list of more than over 90 musical acts and special performances on seven stages, along with 10,000 pounds of crawfish trucked from Louisiana, non-stop dancing, shopping, playing and eating on the beautiful San Diego Bay.

The festival will be held from May 5-8, 2016 at Spanish Landing Park, across from the San Diego International Airport. Presented by San Diego’s Bon Temps Social Club.gator_by_the_bay_food


  • Thurs. May 5: 6:30–10:30 p.m.
  • Fri., May 6: 3:30–10:30 p.m.
  • Sat., May 7: 10:30 a.m.– 8:30 p.m.
  • Sun., May 8: 10:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m.

“This one-of-a-kind festival offers attendees the chance to experience Louisiana culture, lots of lively music and flavorful food—it’s like a Mardi Gras party, but in May!” said Peter Oliver, a Gator By The Bay producer. “We are thrilled to provide San Diegans with this yearly celebration that brings Louisiana’s eclectic cuisine and culture right to our bay.”

Since its inception in 2001 the festival has grown to showcase not only Grammy winning Cajun and Zydeco artists directly from Louisiana, but also legendary Chicago and California blues artists, rockabilly and roots performers and award-winning salsa and Latin bands. This year, guests will enjoy an expanded schedule of over 90 diverse musical and dance performances on seven stages throughout the event. The festival has become an annual must-do for enthusiasts of all ages who’ve come from not only throughout California, but 39 other U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia.

The festival will kick off with a concert headlined by C.J. Chenier, son of the Grammy Award-winning legendary “King of Zydeco”, Clifton Chenier, on Thursday, May 5 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. C.J. was literally born into the musical tradition of southwest Louisiana and Texas Zydeco, a chugging, accordion-led blend of French Creole and African-derived influences.

Other musical headliners this year include:

  • Bonsoir Catin, a mostly female band playing traditional Cajun dancehall gems and sweet Louisiana ballads and a fresh new Cajun sound.
  • Jeffery Broussard and the Creole Cowboys from Lawtell, Louisiana. Broussard stands as innovator and keeper of the classic Zydeco traditions.
  • Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble from Lafayette, Louisiana playing a mix of traditional and nouveau Zydeco designed to “keep the folks dancing.”
  • Local slide guitarist Johnny “V” Vernazza will host his annual Blues show with guests Roy Rogers and John Nemeth. This is a special once in a lifetime show.
  • Blues greats Sugaray Rayford, Curtis Salgado, Rick Estrin, Kim Wilson, and The 44’s with Kid Ramos.
  • Daily Mardi Gras parades with the Euphoria Brass Band
  • Special Kazoo Parade to play along with much loved local Blues hero Billy Watson who will partner with Blues guitar legend Jr. Watson for a very special show. Billy will pass out 100 Kazoos so everyone can join his end of show parade.
  • A full roster of local favorites including, Sue Palmer, Bayou Brothers, Zydeco Mudbugs, Theo & the Zydeco Patrol, Billy Lee & the Swamp Critters, Manny Cepeda and Bill Magee.
  • And many, many more.

The festival boasts five wooden dance floors, including two 3,000 square foot covered dance floors at each of the two main stages. Dance floors will be filled with thousands of pairs of feet throughout the weekend; whether they’re twirling to Cajun waltzes, two-stepping to a lively Creole zydeco beat, swinging and jitterbugging to blues and boogie-woogie, or moving to spicy Latin sounds. Dancing is strongly encouraged with free lessons throughout the day.


The French Quarter Food Court features the authentic tastes of Louisiana, with many vendors making the cross-country trip just for the festival. Revelers will fill up on fresh Louisiana-raised crawfish, boudin sausage, catfish, alligator, barbecue and oysters. There will be mouth watering Louisiana favorites including gumbo, jambalaya, po’ boys and etouffée. For dessert there will be a Southern selection of beignets, sweet potato pie, homemade ice cream, pralines and bread pudding.


All areas of the festival are open to children to enjoy the music, color, spirit and activities of the event.  Special activities include participating in the costumed Mardi Gras parades and making outrageous hats with the Rad Hatter.


Retail therapy is offered by carefully selected vendors in the market area, featuring Mardi Gras-inspired goods and clothing, art, hand-made jewelry, dancing shoes, clothing and accessories.


On the intimate Bayou Grove Stage, visiting musicians tell the stories about the heritage of their crafts. In the Food Pavilion, Louisiana and local chefs give cooking demos and tastings.


Tickets are on sale now. Thursday night concert tickets range in price from $25 to $95. Festival tickets range from $35 to $40, with discounts available for advance purchase and multiday passes. Children 17 and under are admitted free with a paid adult. Patron passes include access to the Patron Reception Area including a complimentary meal, personal meet and greet with festival headliners, complimentary craft beer from Kona Brewery, select wines, soft drinks and water, private shaded seating and upgraded restrooms and additional reserved shaded seating near both main stages. This is available for $120 per day (Saturday or Sunday) or $200 for both days. Find all festival, ticket, lodging, parking and free shuttle info at www.gatorbythebay.com.

Financial support for Gator By The Bay is provided in part by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement program. Additional support is provided by the Port of San Diego, Kona Brewing Company and The San Diego Reader. The festival is presented in part by the Louisiana Office of Tourism and their affiliate tourism bureaus. For more information visit www.gatorbythebay.com.

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